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Navy helicopter spots 200 migrants off Italian coast

Rescue mission underway

22 January, 17:09
Navy helicopter spots 200 migrants off Italian coast (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - A helicopter from an Italian Navy amphibious ship sighted a boat carrying approximately 200 migrants some 90 nautical miles south of the island of Lampedusa shortly after midday Wednesday. Given the large number of passengers on board, a frigate ship and another helicopter were sent in the direction of the boat on a rescue mission starting around 2:40 PM. Following the initial sighting, the boat had its movements tracked by an Air Force Predator drone, which took off from the Amendola Air Base as part of the joint-forces collaboration foreseen by Italian search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum.

The operation for migrant security was launched by the Italian government in October last year after several rafts carrying migrants shipwrecked off the country's coasts, killing roughly 400. The operation includes amphibious ships, unmanned drones and helicopters with infrared equipment.